In the previous chapters I have shown how certain young men
experience and make sense of pro wrestling. In this final chapter, I
make the case for why this matters: What does this high- risk, col-
laborative performance say about larger social issues?
Masculinity is frequently analyzed through the lens of a “cri-
Scholarship has been primarily concerned with the political
implications of Western masculinity: how male dominance or ad-
herence to “hegemonic masculinity” (Connell’s term for the most
esteemed version of masculinity) contributes to racism, homopho-
bia, misogyny, everyday violence, war, and other social issues. This
common “crisis” designation, of course, presupposes a certain pe-
riod of stability prior to the present turmoil and angst. This pre-
sumed order—or assurance—regarding men, gender, and mascu-
line institutions is largely mythical, however. Western masculinity
has never been untroubled. Masculinity “is not in crisis,” as Tim
Edwards states, “it is crisis” (2006, 17).
When masculinity is understood as a set of ideas that are con-
tested and in flux, complexities and contradictions come into
better view. Scholars recognize the range of men’s experiences—
young middle- class white gay men and urban black working- class
straight men, for example, encounter different opportunities, in-
centives, and punishments—and the respective categories are
hardly static; moreover, contrasting principles provoke paradoxes
and complications in the everyday practice of masculinity.
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